Thursday, November 19, 2015

Free Speed

Wouldn’t you like to go faster for free?
We have spent a lot of time over the last twenty years developing handling products and making suspension recommendations. Most of our suggestions and modifications require some sort of expense, some modest, some more substantial. Here are some often-overlooked and simple suggestions for some free speed...

Inspect it.
Check your engine oil and coolant levels.
Torque the lug nuts. Add a tiny bit if anti-seize compound to the wheel studs before cross-torquing them. Check your tire pressures and while you are airing up, take a look at the tread and inside shoulder of the tires for excessive wear. Rotate your tires and put the best tread on the front axle. Rotate the tires front-to-rear only, and don’t switch sides.

Secure it.
Secure loose items and cargo. It’s no fun to turn into a quick corner to find loose stuff and baggage (your laptop!) zinging across the cabin.  Then you hit the brakes and your lunch or phone slides off the seat into the footwell. Take a few minutes and secure your baggage and loose items in the cabin, console, and trunk or cargo area. Use a box or grocery bin. And remember flip-flops are not racing shoes!

Practice daily.
We all think we’re pretty good drivers because we are enthusiasts. But most of us make a lot of mistakes. Most of us commute and drive daily, so this is our ‘first’ chance to get some driving practice. Set the seat position for alert and safe driving. Adjust the mirrors. Be aware of your hand position on the wheel (both hands!). Be aware of your surroundings by staying alert and scanning around. Avoid distractions, and be ready for the unexpected.

Feel the set.
When you turn into a long sweeping corner, feel the car roll a bit and ‘take a set’ during corner entry. The 'set' is that 'steady state' of traction that is established on initial 'turn-in'. If you hold a steady line, the car stays 'set' and planted. If you over-drive and correct too much, the car needs to re-set and this compromises the grip or traction because it redirects a lot of mass (you entire car). This takes time and ruins your steady line. Learn to hold a steady line through the corner, and then make a 'precise' transition from one corner to the next. Do your braking before corner entry, and accelerate after the ‘apex’ or middle of the corner. If you feel for the 'set' then 'transition' to the next corner, you will quickly learn why 'the line' through the corners is so important.

Be smooth.
It’s a great help to practice being ‘smooth’ with all the driver inputs; steering, throttle, brakes and shifting. Consider that ‘smooth’ driver inputs mean less vehicle speed is ‘wasted’ redirecting the car over and over. Smooth is fast. The best drivers are always smooth and make it look so easy!